By S. Barot
For The Fort Bend Star
Public safety and public security after annexation were the main topic of discussion during the New Territory Residential Community Association’s (NTRCA) annual meeting.
Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman and other city council members and county officials attended the meeting as part of a public outreach exercise. The meeting was used as a tool to begin preliminary discussions with the public around the eventual annexations of the New Territory and Greatwood Municipal Utility Districts (MUD) – and emphasis was placed on public safety.
Both annexations will be effective Dec. 12 and the population of Sugar Land will grow by more than 30 percent – from 87,367 to 117,000 residents.
At present, both New Territory and Greatwood MUDs are part of the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and receive their public safety services from the county and they have been paying a surcharge for city services – including Fire and EMS – which will end after the annexation is complete.
“There are concerns about the annexation and what type of law enforcement services you are going to receive as a community,” Sherriff Troy Nehls said, addressing the crowd. “What I can assure you is that you will receive the best services of the finest law enforcement agency in Fort Bend County with the Sugar Land Police Department.”
Nehls said he met with Sugar Land Police Chief Doug Brinkley and NTRCA Board President Michael Pincomb to discuss transitioning public safety services.
Brinkley told the Fort Bend Star that there is a good working relationship between Sugar Land and Fort Bend County regarding the annexation. He said the Sugar Land Police Department is in the process of determining the appropriate resources needed to ensure a smooth transition – including equipment and manpower – which could mean hiring additional officers for patrol.
Brinkley would not comment on specifics but he did say the police department will participate in additional informative meetings with individual neighborhoods.
“We will have open dialogue as far as rolling out our plans,” Brinkley said.
Sugar Land spokesperson Doug Adolph said the city’s priority is to work with the public and if there are any concerns, citizens should come forward so the city can address such issues. Representatives from the city will continue to work with the neighborhood leadership to ensure that all questions and concerns are addressed.
Zimmerman added that talks about the annexation have been in the pipeline for 10 years and that city and county officials want it to be a “seamless process.”
“We work together,” he said. “And it’s not about us, it’s about you all.”